do you dehydrate your own trail meals? | High Sierra Topix  

do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:29 pm

I've been dehydrating for several years now using a L'Equip. Excellent dehydrator. As most have already mentioned on here I stick with basic meals that provide the type of energy and nutrition that I need for being out there for months at a time. Chili and Gumbo are my staples.. both are completely vegetarian which not only makes them easier to dehydrate but also easier to digest in the field. It's actually not always that easy to digest meat in the field given the extreme activity/metabolic levels. I also do pasta sauces and pasta itself. I learned to cook the pasta about halfway and then dehydrate and then when I cook in the field it only takes about half the time.. pretty brilliant idea that I researched several years back! I'll probably branch out to some lentils or something of that sort this year to get another flavor in.

In regards to ziplocks... Been using the sandwich ones for some and the freezer ones for other meals.. Usually depended on the size of the meal. I have had zero problems with plastic smell or anything else. And... I've had food in resupply buckets for over a month and if I remember correctly almost 2 months last year. This year it will also be close to 2 months. I've also stored cheese for over a month without refrigeration last year! The secret is vinegar soaked cheese cloth that the cheese is wrapped in. I don't mind the taste of vinegar and to be honest it's not that strong either. I tried to go with the vacuum sealing route a couple years back but I found it was not only heavier but also bulkier and I couldn't fit as much food into my Bearikade that way. And the vacuum sealing route is also not reusable unlike ziplocks.. Yes I even reuse ziplocks! I wash them every year after my trips until they just become too old.. ie 2-3 years of use. I also have not found any issues with the fact that ziplocks aren't completely air tight. If you properly dehydrate it really shouldn't matter very much considering that the rate of absorption of moisture through the air is so low compared to the amount of time the food is stored. And in our Sierra Nevada the air is pretty dry during the summer anyways so if it's stored in most of the locations that I know of.. IE VVR, Parcher's, Reds' Meadow you shouldn't worry too much about wet/damp air.

I also make burritos with the chili and gumbo.. I add some Cheese Powder (which you can get online easily) and hot sauce and it's one of my favorite meals.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:40 pm

alpinemike wrote:It's actually not always that easy to digest meat in the field given the extreme activity/metabolic levels.

What activity are you talking about that is extreme? It can't be backpacking.

I eat a lot of salami in the Sierra. Pretty much every trip it's roughly 10% of my calories and I've never had any problem with it. I rely on it. But I'm mainly just walking or skiing with a pack, or rock climbing. Nothing remotely extreme.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:35 pm

longri wrote:Ziplocks. What else are you going to use?


This stuff

http://www.amazon.com/Gallon-Dry-Packs- ... B003WSUPDY

I plan to use this type bag (vacuum sealed) at least for the long term stuff mailed out, then to be repackaged for the bear can. I've used zip locks with freeze dried for years, never had an issue even 8 plus weeks after repacking. I am just trying to be more careful with the homemade stuff, although from what I have learned so far, if prepared properly and with low fat content, dehydrated meals will last for many months.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:44 pm

There are many types of zip-lock bags. The "freezer" bags are thicker, have better zip seals, and are intended for longer storage. I can see why you would not want to put every packet in a seal-a-meal bag, but maybe put, say two days worth of smaller zip-locks in one seal-a-meal and vacuum it? Just an idea. The plastic taste thing is pretty individual - I may be a "super taster". It also may be that the food itself has gone stale. I once read where high-fat foods spoil easier and pick up odors. I particularly notice that nuts taste bad after about a month in a plastic bag.

Oxygen, heat, moisture and light are supposed to be the culprits in food spoilage. So it also depends on how the food will be stored. I imagine that a place like Muir Ranch would store the mailed food in a cool, dark place. Putting it in a trailside bear box is probably not a good idea (and illegal too). Those bear boxes get really hot at times. I had a friend who did this once and when he got to the bear box, the food was spoiled. Had to come out!
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:49 pm

Those vacuum bags aren't a bad idea since you're going to repackage later. You'll probably never know if it was necessary.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:26 pm

To answer your question
What activity are you talking about that is extreme? It can't be backpacking.
:

I would say that compared to being able to eat normally and not be burning 5000+ calories a day backpacking on difficult cross country terrain is fairly extreme. Also throw in many climbing days along with sustained technical climbing. Maybe that's just how I see it... Not necessarily extreme in the form of a sport but in terms of on the body for months at a time it is. Remember I am referring to doing this constantly for not just a couple days or weeks but months.. I'm sure I could eat meat regularly on a short backpacking trip no problem. I do eat some salami and some turkey pepperoni just to get a little protein in. But it's certainly not where the bulk of my calories comes from. Just how my body works I suppose.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:54 am

longri wrote:Those vacuum bags aren't a bad idea since you're going to repackage later. You'll probably never know if it was necessary.


you're right, but I had some bad experiences in the past I do not want to repeat. During our last long trip I learned never to repack factory vacuum sealed salami (Landjaeger, actually). All the packages we shipped ahead that were still sealed as purchased were fine weeks later, but those that were cut open and repackaged into freezer zip lock bags were all rotten.

We even used fresh food handling gloves to avoid contamination during repackaging. Still a good idea to do even after that bad experience. We were somewhat pushing the envelope with those sausages, I guess. Never had issues with them in the air tight packs, though.

Great meal suggestions in the other posts. I will have a lot of foods to try out before summer.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:14 am

alpinemike wrote:Remember I am referring to doing this constantly for not just a couple days or weeks but months..

I glossed over the "months at a time" part of your post.

Everybody's different, but I'm not sure why the amount of time you're out there affects the ability to digest a given meal on a given day. Or why meat would be a problem for an endurance athlete. I'll bet Tour de France riders eat meat for dinner.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:50 am

As I recall, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills gives advice on the consumption of protein rich food that includes eating it only on rest days, because elevation makes it harder to digest it. Increasing carbs and fats and decreasing protein in the diet is another piece of advice they dole out.

My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach. I tend to up the carbs and have a little protein with dinner. It seems to help settle the stomach.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:58 am

fishmonger wrote:During our last long trip I learned never to repack factory vacuum sealed salami (Landjaeger, actually). All the packages we shipped ahead that were still sealed as purchased were fine weeks later, but those that were cut open and repackaged into freezer zip lock bags were all rotten.

That's been my experience with salami as well. It's perfectly fine for months at room temperature provided it's in the original packaging. Some types of bread are like that too (the infamous supermarket bagels for example).

I've never had a dehydrated meal rot or mold. My main worry has always been with any fat within it going rancid. But a little insurance can't hurt.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:30 am

AlmostThere wrote:As I recall, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills gives advice on the consumption of protein rich food that includes eating it only on rest days, because elevation makes it harder to digest it. Increasing carbs and fats and decreasing protein in the diet is another piece of advice they dole out.

My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach. I tend to up the carbs and have a little protein with dinner. It seems to help settle the stomach.

Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought we were talking about strenuous ("extreme") activity, not high altitude. I agree that it's hard to do strenuous tasks when you have a full stomach of slowly digesting food. That's not just a question of meat/protein though as vegetable fats are also slow to process. But is eating a moderate amount of meat at dinner at Sierra elevations really a problem?

Freedom of the Hills isn't necessarily the best source, but here are some excerpts from my somewhat dated copy (5th edition, 1992):

For lunch and snacks it suggests "Protein: Canned meats and fish, beef jerky, precooked sausage, meat spreads, cheese, nuts and seeds (sunflower and others)."

For dinner they recommend "canned or dried chicken, beef or fish, sausage...", "almond chicken, chili, shrimp newberg, turkey, beef stroganoff...".

Under the "high altitude" section they caution that when ascending too abruptly that "Many climbers fall victim to symptoms of mountain sickness... Under those conditions it is more difficult to digest large meals because the stomach and lungs are competing..."

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:21 am

AlmostThere wrote:
My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach.


In my experience, that only happens to me on the first few hiking days. On my typical multi-week trips the appetite comes back early in the adventure. Maybe 3 days? Definitely after one week, the body is asking for any food you can feed it. Hungry all the time. Double sized dinners welcome... All you can eat breakfast at Parchers was a highlight of our last trip, and we got our money's worth that day. Yeah, we were a little slower heading back up to Bishop Pass, but the calorie boost was welcome after 10 days of freeze dry meals.
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